Plans to create 150 new marijuana stores, allow cannabis tours and make it a crime to get a pet sick from pot are among proposals Illinois lawmakers are expected to consider this spring.
The proposed legislation comes as the state’s marijuana industry has undergone explosive growth, clearing $1 billion in sales in its first year, while minority and other new investors have gotten shut out of the process.
Even after proposed changes to promote minority ownership, sponsors say the industry will remain fundamentally slanted in favor of existing wealthy white owners, despite stated intentions to make up for disproportionate effects of the war on drugs.
As long as existing growers are allowed to remain far bigger than newcomers, and federal law prohibits bank loans for marijuana businesses, it will be nearly impossible for many entrepreneurs to compete on an equal footing, Democratic state Rep. La Shawn Ford of Chicago said.
“There could be no equity because this system does not even allow for common folks to get into the business,” he said.
As an example of the difference between established cannabis companies and new entrepreneurs, existing growers may grow up to 210,000 square feet of flowering plants, while new craft growers initially will be limited to 5,000 square feet. [Read more at Chicago Tribune]
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